JC / Railbird

Women: Get Some for Your Racetrack

Trainer Louie Roussel on Arlington’s “Fab 4”:

”Pretty faces never hurt a racetrack, but what’s more important is that these four are not just pretty faces. They are educated, knowledgeable, talented young professionals that are there to add ambience, aesthetics and insight into a customer’s day at the races.”

Yes, that’s right. Women provide ambiance and aesthetics at a racetrack, just like a fresh pair of drapes or beautiful landscaping. Power Cap affirms, writing of the Mother Goose crowd at Belmont:

It may be easy to dismiss these women as taking up space and not contributing their fair share to the game. Not only did they receive free admission but I did not see them hitting the windows with $100 exacta boxes. However their contribution is not to the handle but to the track aesthetic and of the ambiance of the facility.

Women: Not wasting space when they’re making your racetrack look better. Track executives, why not pick up a few today to spruce up your facility?

7/7/09 Addition: Speaking of women and racing, EJXD2 emailed yesterday to ask if I’d noticed the Best Turned Out Filly/Lady contest, one of the events at Saratoga during the August 8-9 Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing (during which there will also be Best Turned Out Horse contests). I hadn’t, but wonder, per Alan’s comment below, if maybe NYRA shouldn’t add one more contest to the weekend to keep things fair: Best Turned Out Colt/Gentleman.


Guess I was wasting space on Saturday… oh wait, I’m sure some men won some of that money I lost. Good, I feel like I contributed.


Posted by dana on July 6, 2009 @ 9:49 am

Great title.

At least Roussel gives them credit for being insightful, though I’d imagine that most track execs would take money through the window over ambiance any day.

See you at the next Filly Friday?

Posted by Teresa on July 6, 2009 @ 10:30 am

Thanks for the ambiance ladies!

Posted by Keith - Triple Dead Heat on July 6, 2009 @ 11:01 am

With all due respect, Jessica, what a bunch of sexist crap. Only women can provide ambiance or aesthetics at a racetrack??? LOL. There are no well-dressed men at Saratoga sprucing up the sightlines, only women? I can pick out women at racetracks that can make the paint peel just as easily as the lowlife men who, in your blinkered view, make up the vast majority of the men in the crowd. Please spare me, I’m rather tired of this whole asinine line of discussion.

Posted by alan on July 6, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

And by the way, “Power Cap affirms…”

Oh yeah, he’s a fucking authority on the subject I’m sure, lol!

Posted by alan on July 6, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

Sorry, Alan, I think you misunderstood — I was tweaking the line of thinking in both quotes, not validating it. Re-read, in an ironic tone.

Posted by Jessica on July 6, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

You know, I think Alan’s on to something. We should really be encouraging racetracks to think more like clubs — you know, be selective in their admissions and employment policies. Gone would be all those old ladies at Aqueduct every weekend; gone would be the middle-aged, middle-weight mothers with loads of kids and friends setting up picnics in the backyards at Belmont and Saratoga; gone would be the wealthy but wrinkled socialite set at the Spa.

20 – 30 year olds only, please; no one bigger than a size four; the aesthetically unpleasing need not apply, for entrance or employment.

Posted by Teresa on July 6, 2009 @ 2:27 pm


“With all due respect, Jessica, what a bunch of sexist crap.”

that’s her point! the long weekend must have killed your usually finely tuned snark-dar :)

Posted by dana on July 6, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

I’ve never been to the track to stand around and look pretty … or at least not before putting in my winning Pick 4 tickets and talking horses with dad and friends.

Yes … I do get a lot of attention but it’s because I am yelling my 38-1 to the line and my signature “Sweet” can be heard a mile away as the MEN are cursing and throwing away their tickets … LOL.

Posted by Lady Longshot on July 6, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

Funny, I’ve never heard truly attractive women complain about being described as adding aesthetics and ambience to their surroundings — maybe they are just too busy being noticed by men, and otherwise enjoying life.

(Oh, I’ve heard the occasional odd complaint about this from women who I thought were misandrist, but it turned out that they were just looking for attention.)

Posted by John Hahn on July 6, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

John, thanks for your comment. You’re a rare boor in your ability to so subtly deploy passive-aggressiveness to deliver such an unoriginal insult. I salute you!

Posted by Jessica on July 6, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

Jessica, as much as the sadist in me enjoys following this all-too-predictable lunatic feces-hurling-contest, is it really necessary to bring up topics that will definitely end up in the kind of discussion that leaves reasonable members of both camps somewhere in a corner, quietly covering their faces in shame?

I know it was irony (sort of), but be honest: did you have a bet with someone that bringing up a political correctness topic would garner more than 10 responses without any of the first 11 disagreeing with your basic point? If so, let me be the first one to congratulate.

To get it up to two dozen, let’s start the poll:
“20–30 year olds, no one bigger than a size four” v. the infield Flamingo Pond – which one is the better landscaping investment; and which is more pricey on the upkeep?

Posted by Malcer on July 6, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

My larger point is that it is good for the track to draw people to the track that are not the typical old-man degenerate horseplayer type that dominate the turnstiles on a daily basis. Track executives should market to these types and try to lure them by the lot.

I don’t mind being tweaked and if you were offended at least it was by the truth. When I worked in nightlife promos it was vital for us to draw attractive young women to our events if we were to be successful. This is no great secret or fantasy-like fabrication it is event planning 101.

Posted by Greg(Power Cap) on July 6, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

No, Malcer, there was no bet, and there was no thought of political correctness, a phrase it bores me to even type. I was struck by the attitude of the comment, reminded of Power Cap’s earlier words, and thought both instances of objectifying language — which complemented each other so well — deserved being pointed out. As a woman in racing, I find the topic of women in racing interesting. It requires no ulterior motive for me to post on the subject.

Greg, you’re right, it’s a classic angle for promoting any event: Attract women, guys follow. What I took exception to was your remark, “It may be easy to dismiss these women as taking up space …,” as though women have to justify their presence at the track, if not by wagering or paying admittance, then by dressing up the scene. Thanks for the comment.

Posted by Jessica on July 6, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

@Greg: I think everyone who’s ever stumbled over your blog understood even from that quote that your point was the marketing value of attractive women (which is an undeniable fact, no matter if one likes it or not).

On a sidenote, “draw people to the track that are not the typical old-man degenerate horseplayer type” for the indirect promotional value is a large part of what I always mean by marketing racing as a sport and outdoor event, rather than just a form of gambling.

Posted by Malcer on July 6, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

It’s interesting that you’re being questioned, Jessica, for bringing attention to an article and a perspective that reduces women to nothing more than decoration (as you noted, drapes and landscaping). No one is arguing against bringing women to the races — but to assume that they can do no more than pretty things up is a complete waste of marketing time and money. Get them to the track, and get them to bet. Funny — I haven’t seen any articles recently that talk about how to make that happen.

Posted by Teresa on July 6, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

@Jessica: I’m not quite sure which one of us is missing the other’s irony (no irony in this sentence, to be sure). I didn’t actually think you had a bet on this, my point was that bringing up topics like this invariably leads to the kind of discussion you’ve had for the first 10 comments. It’s just not very productive.

More importantly, I don’t even read that sentence you took offense to as a statement of the author’s opinion, to me it reads more like an impersonation of a stereotype to make the following (and opposing) point.

I’ve seen one gender-related racing topic that offended me this evening, but chose not to comment on it, because such discussions tend to do more harm than good.

Posted by Malcer on July 6, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

Teresa, Cronley talked about it recently. I didn’t agree with it 100% or even 80% but still, I found it funny and insightful (most everything Cronley is).

The couple of times I saw “Downs after Dark” (a name that tends to attract a woman’s interest?) on HRTV or the photo slideshows from the KY papers afterward, I was struck by the dressed up, “aesthetic” (terrible word to describe a female, BTW) women with drinks in hand, the “white hats” (dated college phrase) in the background gawking at them and, further in the background, the DJ spinning away. Didn’t see any racing forms in hand in that crowd.

These kind of parties can spring up anywhere. Here in the NYC area we’ve got old, dilapidated, drained public swimming pools as reason enough to get together for a drink and gawk at women.

I used to think that what CD did with “after dark” a no brainer from a marketing stand point. A total win/win. As I get older, I’m not quite so sure.

I’m not going to pretend to walk in a woman’s shoes. I get into arguments like this thread here all time among my female contemporaries who have a much keener ear for some of the silly things men say. I can’t defend what a woman finds offensive despite what I *might* consider to be a misinterpretation of intent. There’s no point in trying.

Women in racing is an interesting topic but even more interesting to me is men’s reaction to women in racing. As a somewhat/sometimes single dude, the last place I’m looking for the “ambiance” to interact with the opposite sex is at the track.

Many summer afternoons have been spent on Monmouth’s lawns to make me believe that despite the presence of the “aesthetic” female, most dudes feel the same … but that will not stop them from looking and gawking.

Posted by o_crunk on July 6, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

“Women in racing is an interesting topic but even more interesting to me is men’s reaction to women in racing.”

No kidding, so far we have “you must be a hag if you’re complaining” or “this topic is unproductive” (like it’s productive to scold someone). I like Alan’s genuine reaction to the sentiment the best.

Posted by dana on July 6, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

@dana: I didn’t say, suggest or mean that its unproductive to discuss “women in racing” because women aren’t worth discussing – quite the opposite, actually.

I meant that almost everyone (most likely including at least one of the two men quoted in this post) agrees that women aren’t just a decoration at racetracks.

My point was that its unproductive to discuss a topic if 99% of the audience share your view in the first place. It’s more likely to raise the false perception of a greater rift than there actually is, rather than to convince the remaining 1%, which most likely won’t read about this topic anyway, or will only become defensive because of the level of scorn directed at them.

Posted by Malcer on July 6, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

Thanks for the clarification Malcer, I see your point and think there’s merit to it, but I ultimately come down on the side of “calling that shit out”.

And I hope you’re right re: 99% of the audience sharing the non-knuckle-dragging POV! (but am not going to hold my breath).

Posted by dana on July 6, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

I do think it is worth pointing out this type of coverage even if the majority of the people posting agree with Jessica. There are the many people who read the posts and the commentaries who never post and just maybe they will be made aware of the way women at the track are portrayed and perhaps adjust their attitudes. When I went to Belmont this past Saturday I went to buy a Daily Racing Program, the publication that contained Belmont’s PPs along with the other simulcast tracks. I picked it up, put down my $3 and the man at the booth said to me “No, no, no. You don’t want that. That’s the simulcast program. You want the Belmont program.” No, I did not. I am very aware of the difference yet he seemed to feel he knew better. This is the kind of the thing women at the track are faced with all the time. Sometimes it’s blatant and sometimes it’s subtle.

Posted by ccc on July 7, 2009 @ 10:36 am

And I suppose that the thinking of Wimbledon officials, who take women players’ appearance into account when scheduling matches for Centre Court, should also go unremarked upon?

The more that this demeaning thinking can be revealed, the better.

Posted by Teresa on July 7, 2009 @ 11:57 am

> John, thanks for your comment. You’re a rare boor in your ability to so subtly deploy passive-aggressiveness to deliver such an unoriginal insult. I salute you! < Your "in wounded tones" commentary on this matter doesn't quite deserve an "original" insult, now does it? Grow up, and when you do, you will see the world how it really is ... not how you wish it was.

Posted by John Hahn on July 7, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

“Grow up, and when you do, you will see the world how it really is…not how you wish it was.”

The same could be said to you John… meaning, by your logic you should STFU if you don’t like what Jessica, or anyone else, has to say. We don’t all have to agree but it would be great if when we didn’t we weren’t a-holes about it. But you deserve props for using what seems to be your real name!

Posted by dana on July 7, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

You must hang around with some pretty shallow women, John.

And seeing how the world really is does not — nor should it — preclude any of us from pointing out what’s wrong with it, and suggesting that there’s a way to make it better.

Posted by Teresa on July 7, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

Sorry, all, this comment thread is fraying, so I’m closing it. Thanks for all the thoughtful remarks, whether in agreement or not.

Posted by Jessica on July 7, 2009 @ 2:17 pm